. . . the heart on the door for instance. Simon the master carpenter pointed it out to me.
Every time I go to Llwyn Celyn, there’s a new thing to see. Layers of paint and plaster have been peeled back, slab stones lifted, centuries of paint, varnish, fats from cooking have been stripped from the doors, but perhaps that’s not why these discoveries are being made. Simon had worked for a great deal of time on this door and had never seen the heart, ‘only when it was over there, probably in the sunlight’ and the door ‘was [off its hinges] at an angle’ that’s when it was visible. Maybe the heart is back in the house, it certainly feels like that.
I’ve been sitting in this house and in its grounds before the craftsmen came and the bats had left, for two years. I thought I might ‘capture’ a moment of its history, see a creative vision of one of the inhabitants, hear some story. I realise, I’ve been trying too hard, been, at times, too focused and pressing, looking for what I’ve wanted to see. The whole process therefore has been about learning to just be present, open and aware.
My companion at the house has been Lungs of My Earth by William Henry Searle; it has been a guide in teaching me how to dissolve the self in a landscape and become part of it.
‘There are places we must stay with for the good of our soul. These places will accept you when they know that you know them. . . stay with a certain place for as long as the place asks you. . . let its moods overshadow yours. Stay put. . . when it knows you mean business, these places will unveil their inner light to you.’ (96)
This poem ‘The Hours I’ve Sat’ shows that when we try too hard to be the knower, the landscape teaches us a lesson (one we have to unpick). This time, when the house refused to tell me anything (or I was not in a place to listen) nature had something to say . . .
At lunch when everyone had gone to eat, all the radios were off, I sat in the new courtyard and leaned against the wall of the cider house. My hinges were off, I was at an angle, the sun was glorious. Only then, when I took a break from my work, my aims and imaginings, only then did I have a moment where I felt completely outside of my body, and my objectives, and was completely present with the house, which offered ‘a mutual release and growth’ (Searle) that felt like a blessing. . .
When I listened back, I thought I heard sight of another voice, electrical interference no doubt, coincidence probably. Or maybe a collision, me sat there reading out my poem and someone else from another time, a woman who had just cleaned the apples, pulled off the leaves and was singing, and maybe for a brief moment, I heard her and she heard me . . .